Weir have been working with University of Huddersfield for a number of years
THE latest research collaboration between a University of Huddersfield professor and a world-leading engineering firm has been hailed by a Government body.
Professor Rakesh Mishra, an expert in fluid dynamics, has formed a sequence of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) with Weir Valves & Controls UK, part of the UK-based multi-national Weir Group. The projects have led to massive sales increases and cost savings.
KTPs are part-funded by the Government-backed body Innovate UK and every project is assessed by an independent grading panel. The recently-completed collaboration between Weir Valves and Professor Mishra has now been given the highest grade of ‘Outstanding’ and joins a shortlist that is used to prepare case studies illustrating Knowledge Transfer Partnerships at their best.
The latest University of Huddersfield-Weir Valves KTP began in October 2014 and concluded in October 2017. Its official remit was “to design, develop and launch a new range of products for multiphase, multicomponent flow applications”.
Professor Mishra supervised the research and postgraduate student Antonio Carlos Oliveira who was embedded within Weir Valves as the KTP Associate at the firm’s manufacturing and design centre of origin in Elland. The latest fluid dynamics knowledge was used to help the company improve the design accuracy of valves that are heavily used by the oil and gas industry around the world.
“We found that we can have the same performance with a smaller valve following the research findings, meaning economies of scale and reduced manufacturing costs,” said Professor Mishra. The “astonishing improvement in sizing calculations” – as the company describes it – has contributed to a 640 per cent increase in sales for valves in multiphase applications.
This was the second successful KTP formed by Professor Mishra and Weir. The first focused on the company’s need to embed complex flow knowledge into its design, operation and sales teams. It was able to enhance valve performance and fully comply with the latest international standards.
Now, a third KTP is under way. It began in January and is being backed to the tune of £211,000 over three years, with half of the investment coming from the company and half from Innovate UK, while the University of Huddersfield contributes its research expertise.
This time the goal is to develop SMART valves, embedded with sensors that can estimate the remaining useful life of the product, leading to cost and operational savings for manufacturers and end-users.